Sitting on a hill overlooking the crash site near Shanksville
Sitting on a hill overlooking the crash site near Shanksville, the $ 26 million visitor center complex was dedicated and opened to the public on Thursday, one day before the annual 9/11 observances in Pennsylvania, New York and Washington. Victims' family members got a private tour on Wednesday.
Fourteen years in the making, the center uses photos, video, artifacts and interactive displays to tell the story of Flight 93, the only jetliner among the four commandeered by terrorists that failed to reach its intended target on Sept. 11, 2001. Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York and one slammed into the Pentagon outside Washington. Nearly 3,000 people died.
The center's 10 exhibits are laid out chronologically, with visitors learning how the 33 passengers and seven crew members voted to charge the cockpit and then fought to regain control of the plane, whose hijackers are believed to have wanted to crash it into the US Capitol.
One video traces the aircraft's erratic movements in real time, fading to black at the moment of impact. Bits and pieces of the debris field are displayed under glass.
Picking up a handset, visitors can listen to recordings of the voice messages that two passengers and a flight attendant left for family members minutes before the plane went down. "I'm on United 93 and it's been hijacked by terrorists who say they have a bomb, "passenger Linda Gronlund, calling her sister Elsa, begins matter-of-factly. "Apparently they have flown a couple of planes into the World Trade Center already and it looks like they're going to take this one down as well "She breaks down sobbing:". Mostly I just wanted to say I love you and I'm going to miss you. "Other displays trace the recovery and investigation. The center's stark, 40-foot exterior concrete walls are split by a black granite walkway that marks the doomed plane's flight path. Visitors are led through the exhibits to an outdoor platform that offers a commanding view of the crash site and surrounding hills. The money for the visitor center complex was raised from 120,000 private donors, along with contributions from the state and the federal government. Officials project attendance will rise from 300,000 per year to around 500,000. Development of the Flight 93 National Memorial is nearly complete, with only the planned Tower of Voices, a 93-foot structure with 40 wind chimes, still to be built.